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  1. #1
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Default Trip report Shining Rock loop 12-14 April

    Here's the report for the hike I was gathering info for here.

    Start/Finish at Black Balsam/Sam Knob trailhead at the end of paved USFS 816. Decent parking area with restrooms.Apprx 19mi loop, done counterclockwise. 12-14 April 2021Water was plentifulWeather was 70s/40sBig thanks to the trail maintainers!My wife dropped me, my 14y/o Speedy G and 10y/o T2 at the trailhead and stayed in Brevard with the rest of the crew for a couple of days. We hit the Art Loeb Trail spur at just before 4pm, zigzagged up to the Art Loeb Trail and turned South.
    20210412_160115_resized.jpg

    After a brief run on the very windy ALT around Black Balsam knob (T2 was worried he was going to take flight!)we intersected the Mountains-to-Sea Trail next to USFS 816. Lots of sun, wind and great views. We lost altitude through Graveyard Ridge following the MST.
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    The trail guide I referenced labelled most of this loop as "Moderate" or "Difficult." T2 liked the "Most Difficult" label on this sign post.
    Screenshot_20210427-120541_Gallery.jpg

    We passed over a nice bridge over a waterfall. Shortly thereafter we turned onto Bridges Camp Gap trail for about a mile and camped at the intersection of the BCGT and the Big East Fork trail (6.3miles for the afternoon). This is also the joining of the Greasy Cove Prong and East Fork/Pigeon river. The BEF trail does a sharp right, almost 180 degree turn and follows along the East bank of the river.The first few miles of Tuesday was hiking along side the river. My favorite hiking is high open spaces but after that is next to a rushing river. Plenty of rock, rapids and noise here. A few stream crossings.
    20210413_091732_resized.jpg

    We came to the end of our time on the BEF trail at a trailhead on US276. There is about a 100m roadwalk North to the trailhead for Shining Creek trail. We had planned on taking the Old Butt Knob trail but were busy talking and blew past the trail intersection so we continued up the Shining Creek trail. Shining Creek was fairly boisterous at the lower altitude.
    20210413_150022_resized.jpg


    Obligatory flower shot
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    We lost the obvious trail towards the top for a short while (I typically let the kids lead the way)but at that point Shining Creek was Shining One-foot-wide drainage and the woods are very wide open so we just kept following it uphill along what I suppose was the trail and it rematerialized. We hit the ALT with plenty of daylight left. (about 8miles for the day) We found a nice campsite very close to the water point. The water point had great flow and is a 8 foot piece of split bark. Super convenient. Tent went up just in time for about 30min of mild rain. That blew over and we were able to hike over to Shining Rock, do a brief scramble up one of the many trails, to watch the sunset. There is a serious pile of quartz going on there. That's all I can say.
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    After some supper the kids racked out and I got things prepped for the morning. The kids wanted to try to make it off trail in time to grab a shower before the 7hr ride home in a van with everyone else. So it was a 0500 wake up and goal of 0600 on the trail (0609 actual), about 5 miles to the trailhead. The trail was fairly easy for the first bit while hiking in the dark. Then we passed through the scratch-o-matic zone...
    20210414_065329_resized.jpg

    Hit the intersection with the Ivestor Gap trail as the sun rose.
    20210414_071135_resized.jpg


    They crunked it out and we hit the trailhead at 0900, a few minutes before my wife rolled up with the van. Five fairly rough miles in just under 3hrs and still in great spirits and ready for more. Great hike.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  2. #2
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    Hey, that's a great trail report. I haven't done trail maintenance there for a few years, but I'm always interested in the conditions. Any large down trees that would require a large saw?
    The bridge and waterfall you crossed on day 1 is a popular swimming area in summer: SkinnyDip Falls.
    Regarding your scratch-o-matic experience, it looks as if you got off the trail and went over Grassy Cove Top on the former/unmaintained ALT. The trail now goes left/east of the summit.
    The top of Greasy Cove is Grassy Cove, as the spelling changes from top to bottom. Did you stick to the Ivestor Trail (road) or go over Tennant Mtn?
    It's so great your kids are into this kind of outing.

  3. #3
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Mike,

    There was a few large (>24") trees down, my apologies for not recalling exactly where. Definately not on the ALT or the scratch-o-matic former ALT lol. But it seems day 1 there was one that required crawling under and one other that required more than a step over. Both large saw worthy. (side note: kids were impressed when I told them "wilderness area" meant no power tools).

    I caught a glimpse of an unclad male upper torso at the falls as we approached and took the lead (my kids are very modest) but the swimmers were actually clad in swimwear and were very polite/somewhat surprised. We are often chatting but sometimes we spread out and walk quietly, using hand-and-arm signals (thats what we call them in the Army). My rule is if I can see you you can get as far ahead of me as you want. They really want to see a bear (go figure) or other wildlife so we frequently walk quietly.

    Hmmm... unmaintained trails build character lol. There was only one fall that required stopping for a minute but was easily walked off. They kind of want to go back an knock out the whole ALT. So we'll catch it next time.

    I considered going down the Ivestor Trail road because of the time crunch. I threw it out as a possibility but was secretly relieved when they declined and we continued on the ALT. When I saw what I suspected was USFS 816 way off in the distance I knew we were on schedule for our link up. I intentionally planned the loop counterclockwise to spend those last few miles on the ALT. We stopped a bunch at great views to sip water and snack.

    These two will love hiking for life I suspect. So much so, I invested in a ULA Circuit for my daughter. She may outgrow it. She is on the top end of "small" torso but still too small for "medium." The other 3 girls have decided they love dayhiking but backpacking not as much(they've tried it and done well but...). The 3 younger boys are all itching to go on an overnighter so I'm looking for something in the fall for the 8y/o and 6y/o twins.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  4. #4
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    Cool. Let me know if you need a shuttle.

  5. #5
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike!
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

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